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Author Topic: Placing foam around the hive during the winter.  (Read 3214 times)
Rock331
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« on: August 13, 2011, 11:53:22 AM »

I have been reading about foam board. It appears to be very easy to use and construct. I am wondering if it would be worth my time to construct a box to go around my hive for the winter to help insulate the hive from the cold wind and help the bees  maintain their temp. I am living in southern Oklahoma so we don't really have what is considered hard winters. We do have cold weather and it freezes some. then other days it warms up during the day. I can make the box easily removable and only put it on when it gets cold or leave it on if that will not hurt them. The hive I have was just recently taken from a water meter so they will be considered a week  hive due to not having any built up stores for the winter. Hopefully they will build up this fall. I am feeding them sugar water and will place a Pattie in during the winter to help them. Any other suggestions you have will be helpfully to give them the best opportunity to survive this winter.

Thanks
Randy
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Randy
BlueBee
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« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2011, 01:45:40 PM »

If you’ve just got a small colony of bees, I would hive them in a nuc until their numbers build up.  I realize that could be a problem if you did a cutout and the combs aren’t perfectly flat and can’t be stuffed into a nuc.  In general though a nuc is better for small colonies because it is easier to heat and it is easier to defend against pests and robbers. 

If you go with a foam box over the hive, make SURE you leave a top vent in the foam and the hive.  A vent about 1” x 3/8” should suffice.   A foam shell gives the bees insulation, and it also completely cuts out any cold winds.  Foam also slows how quickly temps can change in the hive.  That could be good for the bees when an arctic cold front catches them by surprise.  I would not think you would need very thick foam to be effective in southern OK.  A hive wrap might be a good alternative for your southerly location.
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Rock331
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« Reply #2 on: August 13, 2011, 01:58:12 PM »

I am going to spend this winter doing buildup of supplies. I am going to build some nucs and boxes along with a bee vac. curently I do not have a nuc so I am going to keep this hive in a deep super this winter. I will try to help them as much as possible. thank you for reminding me about the top vent for the moisture.

I went out this morning and drank coffee while I watched them coming and going. They are finding pollen out there somewhere. We finally have received some rain the last two day and the temperature has come down. This should help the plant life recover from some many days of over 100 degree weather.

Randy
 
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Randy
11nick
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« Reply #3 on: August 13, 2011, 09:39:55 PM »

What about bales of hay?  stack them around the sides and back of the hives?
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Adam Foster Collins
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« Reply #4 on: August 13, 2011, 09:46:42 PM »

I used 3 inch blue foam board insulation on my tbh's here in Canada last winter. One colony made it one didn't. But I had bad mite issues and the colony which failed was small to begin with.

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BlueBee
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« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2011, 12:59:21 AM »

I’ve read a bale of straw can have a R value up to about 30.  I know people who have used bales of straw successfully on a few hives in Michigan on 3 sides and the top.  They didn’t cover the front southerly facing side.  I suspect bales of straw are overkill; heck, many bee keepers believe any insulation is over kill.  

The old bee books talk a lot about “packing” hives in double boxes with leaf material or other chaff for insulation.   The idea of insulation (or winter protection in a basement) seemed mainstream 100 years ago in the northern half of the USA.  Now we just stick the bees in thin wood boxes with virtually no insulation value and expect them to live.  Maybe we have more hardy bees from Georgia and Mississippi now?

A problem with bales of straw is inspecting the hive in the spring or adding winter candy.  It’s a lot of work to go moving a bunch of bales of straw.  If you were to cover all sides of a hive with straw, the bees might have issues trying to find their way back home on a winter cleansing flights if they have to tunnel through a bunch of straw.  

I would go with the modern version of straw; extruded polystyrene foam.  It's much lighter weight and easier to manipulate.
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L Daxon
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« Reply #6 on: August 14, 2011, 08:16:10 PM »

Randy,

I live in Oklahoma City.  Last winter was relatively warm (even through we did briefly get down to zero) and the bees were out very frequently during the days off and on throughout the winter. I put bails of straw up against the north and west sides of my hives just as a wind break.

I also hived a small swarm in early Sept. and overwintered it in a two story medium nuc in the shelter of my large covered patio.  It did great. Also had straw bails around it.

I think it would be a lot of trouble taking insulation off and on according to the weather conditions.  As you know the weather can be quite variable in Oklahoma.
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BrentX
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« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2011, 09:31:31 PM »

An veteran beek I highly respect recommended wrapping hives here in the mid Atlanatic with foam insulation.  I tried this last year and belief it deterimental to the hive.  Bees starved in a hive with frames nearby filled with honey.  My hypothesis is that the insulation did not allow the hive to warm up quickly during the sunny afternoons, preventing the bees from breaking cluster to move to the food.

This year I will be insulating the north and east sides, and the top, but leaving the south and west sides available to soak up the sun.  And of course venting well.
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BlueBee
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« Reply #8 on: August 15, 2011, 10:06:20 PM »

Quote
My hypothesis is that the insulation did not allow the hive to warm up quickly during the sunny afternoons

That sounds valid to me.  Insulation slows the flow of heat; both out of the hive and INTO the hive.  On cool nights, it will retain heat.  On sunny days it will retard the flow of heat into the hive.  Good in the summer, but it could be a negative in the winter.

Here in Michigan we get almost no Sun during the winter and hence solar gains in the winter is kind of a moot point for us.  However elsewhere what BrentX suggests is similar to what Dadant found worked in his beekeeping 100 years ago.  Dadant was located in Illinois.  Here’s a link to his setup from page 102 of Dadants book:

http://books.google.com/books?ei=wM1JTu2GEciKsQLJ6OXpCA&ct=result&dq=dadant+system+of+beekeeping&jtp=102&id=2aNbAAAAMAAJ#v=onepage&q&f=false
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Rock331
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« Reply #9 on: August 16, 2011, 01:18:27 AM »

Very good points. A lot to consider. Right now the hive is kind of under a tree. Anyway the tree is tall enought that around noon it is getting some shade. with the temps still getting over 100 degrees I think  this is ok. But as the temperature starts to cool I will slowly start moving it away from the shade until it is in full sun all day and evening. I will just try and block the wind from hitting the hive. Thanks for bring up a good point.
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Randy
derekm
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« Reply #10 on: August 16, 2011, 09:01:12 AM »

An veteran beek I highly respect recommended wrapping hives here in the mid Atlanatic with foam insulation.  I tried this last year and belief it deterimental to the hive.  Bees starved in a hive with frames nearby filled with honey.  My hypothesis is that the insulation did not allow the hive to warm up quickly during the sunny afternoons, preventing the bees from breaking cluster to move to the food.

This year I will be insulating the north and east sides, and the top, but leaving the south and west sides available to soak up the sun.  And of course venting well.

I thought this was an interesting problem so I ran the numbers on this assuming: 
  • Langstroth sized hives winter power of 22.5w
  • night temp was around 0C
  • the sun and the bees have heated the whole hive to 34C.
  • thermal mass of 8Kg of water
  • night temp lasts 12 hours
The  1" foam hive has a conductivitiy of 0.9W per C. The temp drops to 27C by dawn .  Leaving one side off lowers that to 1.9W /c. that means the hive temp will get to 13C before dawn.
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If they increased energy bill for your home by a factor of 4.5 would you consider that cruel? If so why are you doing that to your bees?
Finski
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« Reply #11 on: August 17, 2011, 05:03:20 PM »

.
It is mistake to think that in winter sun keeps the hive warm. Perhaaps it wams up a little inthe middle of day mut most of 24 hours is not warm an sunny.
Bees produce their own heat from sugar. They do need sun.  in my country sun has no heating value during winter months Dec-February.
If you insulate, all 4 walls should be isulated.

One inch board is good.

Douple box system is good too. Stone wool is good in douple box system.
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Rock331
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« Reply #12 on: August 17, 2011, 07:59:58 PM »

 The temperature in southern Oklahoma stays above freezing most of the winter. Sometime we drop below freezing during the night but warm up during the day time.We may go a week below freezing and drop to around 0 degrees but usually short lived.  One of the benefits of the area is motorcycle riders pretty much ride year around. I am thinking about having something I can remove easily and put on when the temperature changes. I'm sure if I left them alone they would be fine. I think the most help will be keeping the wind off the hive. Help with the windchill factor and slowing the temp change. The sun will warm the hive during the day and the wind block will help keep the temp inside the hive a little longer for them. 
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Randy
Finski
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« Reply #13 on: August 18, 2011, 12:38:57 AM »

[quote author=Rock331


  I am thinking about having something I can remove easily and put on when the temperature changes.

* beekeeping does not go that way




 I think the most help will be keeping the wind off the hive.

* that is a good note. My experience is that the yield may drop 30% if the hive is in open place where wind blows.

The sun will warm the hive during the day and the wind block will help keep the temp inside the hive a little longer for them. 

* bees generate their own heat. A sunny place is a big advantage. The secret of sun warming is that it warms th e earth around the hive.

As you see. Hives are mostly white and they do not warm up by sunshine. Sun warm up hives is a fairytale.

I know what the means to the hives because I have used terrarium heaters in spring on bottoms.

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stella
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« Reply #14 on: August 18, 2011, 09:50:44 AM »

What about the black cardboard Winter Wrap Cartons.
Has anyone tried those?
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Rock331
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« Reply #15 on: August 18, 2011, 01:11:48 PM »

I was running today and saw a house getting shingles put on. I saw a roll of the tar paper  and got me thinking. Has anyone tried to staple the tar paper to the outside of the hive. It will block the wind and will also gather a lot of heat during the day time. Just thinking. I know someone has tried it and can say if it would work.
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Randy
Michael Bush
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« Reply #16 on: August 18, 2011, 01:24:36 PM »

In my climate we get a lot of warm sunny days that the bees could fly if they get some sun, but if you insulate it they won't.  I don't think Finski gets those...
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derekm
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« Reply #17 on: August 18, 2011, 02:01:56 PM »

In my climate we get a lot of warm sunny days that the bees could fly if they get some sun, but if you insulate it they won't.  I don't think Finski gets those...


is the winter sun warm enough there to raise the surface temperature of the wood to 50C(almost too hot to touch)  within  a couple of hours after it has been close to freezing?
otherwise you are not going to put back the heat you lose overnight compare to even 1" of insulation.
« Last Edit: August 18, 2011, 03:05:00 PM by derekm » Logged

If they increased energy bill for your home by a factor of 4.5 would you consider that cruel? If so why are you doing that to your bees?
danno
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« Reply #18 on: August 18, 2011, 03:05:22 PM »

I just use dark paint, olive drab, brown even black and place them on high ground with alittle wind break, in full sun and they do well up here in Michigan.
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derekm
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« Reply #19 on: August 18, 2011, 03:08:09 PM »

I just use dark paint, olive drab, brown even black and place them on high ground with alittle wind break, in full sun and they do well up here in Michigan.

with what level of insulation apart from 3/4" wood?
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If they increased energy bill for your home by a factor of 4.5 would you consider that cruel? If so why are you doing that to your bees?
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